Charlie did a fantastic job of capturing the mood of Denver’s first game sans Carmelo Anthony. It felt like the first outing since the season opening win over the Jazz, after which Melo said if he did not make a change now he never would, that felt meaningful. I also expect to see the Nuggets maintain their high level of performance on offense through teamwork and depth.
Defensively, Denver did not have a particularly good game. Memphis had a true shooting percentage of 58.6%, which was considerably higher than opponents have averaged this season, 54.9%. Plus Memphis scored 52 points in the paint, which you might expect with Zach Randolph roaming the paint, the kicker is Randolph only scored 12 points. It did seem the Nuggets displayed more effort and intensity on defense; even so they gave up a lot of easy shots at the rim. What Denver did best was what they used to do best, steal the basketball racking up 13 thefts as well as forcing 21 total turnovers. If you cannot keep the other team from making their shots, you better prevent them from even taking one.
Things get much more difficult against the Celtics Thursday night as Denver will have to mix in three new rotation players against a team who is in a statistical dead heat for the league lead in defensive efficiency. Still, in the past Denver has had success in baiting the Celtics into playing at their pace in Denver in recent years. It should be a lot of fun to watch.
Onto some pertinent links from the last couple of days:
Not only did Mike of KnickerBlogger answer some of my questions after the Melo trade, I answered some of his . You should also check out Mike’s post on a statistical based analysis of Carmelo’s abilities.
The latest rumors regarding the Nuggets are Raymond Felton’s agent spoke to Masai Ujiri tonight to inform him Raymond is not a backup. And the Mavericks are rumored to be very interested in J.R. Smith.
Carmelo and Chauncey made their Knicks debut tonight against the same team they played in their final game with Denver, Milwaukee. Melo scored 27 points on 25 shots with one assist. Of course he made a couple of big shots down the stretch and New York won. Welcome to the Carmelo Anthony experience Knicks fans!
Personally, my favorite part of the Memphis game was seeing the back of the sign a girl in front of me was holding. I never read the front, but you could see she started writing a definition for the word liar buy declaring it a noun only she spelled noun with a ‘w’ and to my delight instead of using a new piece of paper she flipped it over to try again on the other side preserving her mistake for all behind her to see.
I never gave any credence to the speculation that LaLa Vazquez had anything to do with Carmelo wanting to be a Knick. Carmelo would have wanted to be a Knick regardless of how badly she wanted to be in New York. Maybe I was a bit naive as it took all of one day for LaLa to get a new reality show booked with VH-1. I still do not believe she was that big of a factor, but obviously she had reasons to push Melo back east because they do not hand VH-1 reality shows to just anyone.
The always insightful Keven Pelton writes at Basketball Prospectus that what Denver receives in exchange for the Knicks players they brought to Denver will determine how well they come away from the Melo trade.
Nate Silver of the New York Times looks at the trade from a financial/statistical standpoint and in turn shows how Denver received some good bang for their buck. (Tip of the cap to Posting and Toasting where Seth had an interesting post on the trade as well)
Finally, Andrew, of Denver Stiffs fame, is hosting a Carmelo Going Away Party during the Nuggets/Blazers game Friday night. I am planning on attending so swing by and say Hi and you can meet Andrew who I am convinced is the most powerful and connected Nuggets fan on earth.
I almost forgot, one last tidbit to share. I received an email from Knicks fan Jamie LePinnet sharing some personal experiences with Wilson Chandler.
This past summer The Knicks Blog radio host Anthony Donahue organized an event in the Bronx, New York to raise money for the New York Knicks Garden of Dreams. Anthony’s 10 year old sister had just been diagnosed with brain cancer in the spring, and he wanted to raise money for her and the New York Knicks garden of dreams. Anthony called Wilson, and explained the situation. He wanted to raise money by having Wilson Chandler and Patrick Ewing Jr, cut hair at a local barbershop and ask for community members to donate money. Now, Mr. Chandler was by no means a trained barber but showed up to the event with Ewing Jr. They chatted with fans and members of the community, took plenty of photos, and cut hair of anyone who was willing. It was all in good fun to ask these basketball players to play barber for the day, but they showed up with smiles on their faces and the best attitude. No media was present, or called and they received no compensation for their generous actions.
As unfortunate as it is to uproot families and kids, we forget about the way a trade can disrupt the work a player has done in their community. Whether Chandler is a Nugget long term or moves on after this season, I am confident he will be an asset to the community wherever he goes.